High school kid #1: I'm so glad I found you!
High school kid #2: What, were you lost?
High school kid #1: No, I wasn't lost. I just didn't know where I was.
Ha! I was cracking up! Because, really, isn't that the definition of being lost? It is super easy to get completely lost in Venice, but the good thing is, it is an island, so you can't ever get too lost.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, on the train to Florence. Jessica & Nilufer both conked out on the train (and yes, I have pictures, but I have promised they won't get posted). We arrived and followed the directions from the website to the hotel. Our hotel was on a somewhat busy street, but literally just down the street from the Duomo! How's that for location? We were checked in and ready to go in record time, probably because we were starving! We got a recommendation for a nearby restaurant, Trattoria Za-Za, (which was also a Rick recommendation). Surprisingly, I once again did NOT have pizza! Instead I had gnocchi. If you ask any of my previous travel companions, they will tell you in Italy I almost exclusively eat pizza, and margherita pizza at that. So this was a big step for me.
Since we were so close, we decided to go to the Duomo after lunch and work off all those calories by climbing to the top of the dome. I have never climbed this dome, I've only climbed to the top of the campanile (i.e. bell tower, bu t it has great views of the dome itself). I lost count both going up and coming down, so I will have to rely on the sign that said it was 463 steps. The view was beautiful! After pausing to admire the view from every angle and of course capturing those views in numerous photos, we walked down the stairs and visited the inside of the Duomo.
We walked over to the San Lorenzo market and did some shopping. I love shopping in Florence! It started raining and it was a little too early for dinner so we went back to the hotel for a bit. Dinner was another Rick recommendation, Trattoria Nerone Pizzeria. When we arrived at the restaurant, I realized I had eaten here before! The decor was a dead giveaway. I couldn't go two meals without pizza, so pizza it was. I had every intention of ordering Pizza Funghi (mushroom pizza) but when the waitress came, Pizza Margherita popped out of my mouth. Either way, the pizza was good.
And then we went back to the hotel and to bed. Wait! No gelato? Just kidding. Of course we stopped and got gelato before going back to the hotel. Gelato flavors: hazelnut, peanut butter, dolce latte.
How did it get to be Tuesday already? We had our first breakfast at our new hotel. There wasn't freshly baked croissants. Boo. But there was cappuccino and hard boiled eggs! Our first stop today was to visit my statue boyfriend, David. Be still my heart. While I enjoy paintings, I am blown away by sculptures. The amount of emotion that can be portrayed by a hunk of stone is amazing to me. We came, we saw, we drooled over David. And after seeing the real David, we walked over to Piazza Della Signoria to see the fake David before continuing on to Ponte Vecchio (my favorite bridge in the world!). A mini photo shoot ensued. What can I say, Ponte Vecchio is very photogenic!
Then it was time for, you guessed it, gelato! Dessert before lunch? You betcha! The problem of telling you all the flavors I ate is that you see how much I ate!! We sat at a cafe at the base of the bridge. Gelato flavors: pistachio, strawberry, peanut butter.
We did a little window shopping along Ponte Vecchio. And since we had already had dessert, it must be time for have lunch. We walked towards Santa Croche, and had lunch a block away from the church. I had salmon gnocchi. Interesting is all I have to say...
We visited the church and then walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a spectacular view over the city. I didn't get an accurate step count, but around 160 some odd stairs. We got up there just in time to catch some daylight before the sun set and the city was bathed in twilight, which I think is an even more magical view of Florence.
We walked back down and did a little more shopping before heading to dinner. I didn't write down the name of the restaurant. We split soup for an appetizer - it was delicious!! I had spaghetti for my main course, which was so-so. But the soup was really good! And of course we stopped for gelato on the way home. Gelato flavor: nutella.
Had I been able to look into the future and see how today was going to end up, I might have slept in instead of getting up early to catch the train to Cinque Terre. I won't dwell too much on the "fall" since I've already gone on and on about it. Since we were up so early there was no breakfast, so we ate at, dare I say it, McDonalds. Eh, you gotta do what you gotta do. We caught our train and a few hours later we arrived at Monterosso, the town furthest north in Cinque Terre. It was here we found out the trail had been closed due to excessive rains. But we were here and others were on the trail, so we figured we'd go for it. Lots and lots and lots of stairs, and beautiful views. There were olive trees and lemon trees. There was the washed out part of the trail which caused my downfall. And there was the remaining hike to Vernazza. In Vernazza, we had lunch. Nilufer & I split gnocchi and Pizza Funghi. Oh my word. The gnocchi was so good!! I also had a Diet Coke. I gave up Diet Coke a long time ago, but will have it on vacation (or when I am desparate). With my knee in pain and me hopped up on ibuprofen, wine was probably not a good idea. Step up Diet Coke. Or Coca Light as it is called over there. I do love my Coca Light!
It became pretty obvious we were not going to be able to hike through all 5 towns and so caught the train to the next town, Corniglia. The town itself is high up from the train station. My knee and the fact it started to absolute pour rain gave us good excuses to take the shuttle bus up to the main town. We did a quick walk through before taking the shuttle back down to catch the train to the next town, Manarola. It was now quite apparent I was once again not going to make it to all 5 towns. While I need to put hiking to all 5 towns in the Cinque Terre on my Life List, I have this feeling it may not be in the cards for me. We watched the sunset in Manarola before eating gelato. It was not the best gelato, which is quite sad. Gelato flavors: nutella, cappuccino, hazelnut. And then it was time to head back to Florence.
We ended up having dinner at Trattoria Za-Za, since we knew where it was and it was close to the hotel. Part of me wishes we had gotten pizza to go and eaten back in our room. But then I wouldn't have had their soup appetizer, which was really good! Somewhere along the way I became a soup person, especially in Tuscany. And you might think that splitting soup would be hard, but it wasn't - the soup was really think and hearty. My main course was Pizza Margherita. We had no dessert - can you believe that? But going back to the room and not walking was more important to me at that point.
Happy Thanksgiving!! Several people throughout the day wished us Happy Thanksgiving. We had breakfast at the hotel before setting off to find the bus station. I have been wanting to go to Siena for awhile now but it never worked out - until now! (Check #11 off my 33 Things list.) The countryside out the window of the bus was so picturesque and almost stereotypical Tuscany.
We arrived in Siena and our "luck" continued. The bank ATM machine ate Jessica's card. At least the ATM was attached to a bank and we were able to get her card back. Whew!
The streets in Siena were narrow and windy and eventually let out into Il Campo, an absolutely gorgeous square! There was a tower to climb, and I was game even with my knee. After all, when is the next time I'll be in Siena? Unfortunately the tower was closed due to "security issues". We think the issues were related to the student demonstrations. A wedding had just finished and the bride & groom were taking pictures in the square. The bride was beautiful. From there we walked over to the Duomo, which was absolutely beautiful with white and green stripes.
Lunch was at Locando Garibaldi, a tiny little restaurant not far from Il Campo. I had lasagna, which was probably the best lasagna I had the entire trip. I also had some vegetable soup - see I told you I am turning into a soup person! :)
After lunch we did some shopping and wandering before stopping for our favorite pastime, gelato of couse! Gelato Flavors: mango, strawberry, and banana
It was then time to leave Siena and head back to Florence for a little more shopping and then dinner. We had dinner at Trattoria la Burrasca. They had pumpkin soup and turkey!! I think just for the Americans! :) In any case, we ate it up. It wasn't quite your average Thanksgiving turkey, but it was still nice to eat on actual Thanksgiving.
And then it was back to the hotel to pack. Ugh! Why did I buy so much?
To be continued in Roma...
|Fake David (but still beautiful)|
|Emily, Jessica & Nilufer on Ponte Vecchio|
|Overlooking Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo|
|Emily in Cinque Terre|
|Emily & Nilufer pretending to be scared of the washed out trail|
|Aftermath of Emily vs the cliff|
|Il Campo in Siena|
|Turkey & pumpkin soup on Thanksgiving|